Shanghai Surprise and Hong Kong Hospitality: A 2018 China Pre-Trip Report

Discussion in 'Other Lands' started by CaptainCook, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    Just a couple more days to go!

    I thought I'd share a few details that aren't essential to the trip planning per se, but have added to the fun.

    First up: the Every Disney Park bucket list. This is my current collection of Disney ticket stubs (I realize the Disney Cruise Line stub doesn't technically count towards Every Disney Park, but it helps beef up the current lineup):

    [​IMG]

    I have probably spent an inordinate amount of time wondering whether I will be able to procure ticket stubs to Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland that feature Mickey Mouse or that at least are the colour blue. Knowing that Toy Story Land just made its debut, and having seen some Toy Story-themed ticket photos online, I am kind of bummed to think that my carefully coordinated collection might suddenly take a lime green twist with an injection of Buzz Lightyear. Eventually I plan to frame or shadowbox all of my tickets. Think I'll be able to request a specific ticket stub at the park? It can't hurt to ask, right?

    Second: my new favourite t shirt:

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    I did buy this shirt a couple of months ago from an Etsy seller named PolkaDotPixieShop. It's a great quality t that I highly recommend if you have the same park goals that I do. This shirt will definitely make the trip with me, and may even require hand washing in a hotel sink somewhere so that I can wear it to both the Shanghai and Hong Kong parks.

    Finally, this pin, from another Etsy seller. I don't have this in my hands yet - I missed out on a pre-order and am hoping to pick one up once the shop is re-stocked. It feels a bit like cheating to do so before making the trek to Tokyo, but it's too cute to pass up. I do wish it said Anaheim instead of California, though.

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    I'm not sure that I will be able to (or will want to) do a live trip report, but if not, I will definitely post when we are back!
     
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  4. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    24 hours from now we'll be en route to the airport. Just need to get through one last day at the office, and all that it takes to enable disappearing for two weeks!

    Just wanted to pop on and mention that TDR Explorer's podcast this week was an updated guide to planning a trip to Shanghai Disneyland. It's worth a listen to pick up some tips if you're in the early stages of planning - and it was fun for me to listen to as well, even though I didn't learn anything new at this stage in the game.

    The two major resources we used to help plan the Disney portions of our trip have been TDR Explorer and Disney Tourist Blog. TDR Explorer has the added benefits of producing web, podcast and video material (they have a YouTube channel), and their material is also more up-to-date.

    Hope that helps someone in their planning and I'll report back when I have my own first-hand experience to share!
     
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  5. Chickkypoo

    Chickkypoo DIS Veteran

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    Fellow Canadian here. I'm interested to hear how your trip went. We visited Beijing, X'ian, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Taipei, Kagoshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama, and Tokyo back in 2015 and visited HK Disneyland and Tokyo Disney. We've planned a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong during the Christmas Holidays in 2019, and plan to fly up to Shanghai Disney after to complete our last park.

    Did you enjoy China? Which city was your favourite? How was Shanghai Disney?
     
  6. cynditech

    cynditech Mouseketeer

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    OMG I cannot say thank you enough for posting all of this awesome information!!! We are going to China next June - booking thru Catherine Lu (like a previous poster mentioned). We are visiting Beijin, Xi'an, Chengdu and Shanghai - similar to your itinerary. I cannot wait to hear how the trip has gone.

    I have been taking Mandarin language class for a year now - so by the time we go in June I'm hoping to be somewhat conversational lol.
     
  7. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    We LOVED China! We got home at 10pm last night and I am back in the office today - not sure that was the wisest decision, but I didn't want to give up any more vacation days. I haven't had a chance to upload photos or collect too many thoughts yet, but I'll try to give a quick answer.

    We loved China - it was beautiful, exotic, fun, crowded, chaotic, confusing, dirty in places, and extraordinarily eye-opening. I think as North Americans we sometimes have a North America-centric view of the world. It was so interesting for me to see a country with a massive population that doesn't look at it that way. China doesn't cater to foreign visitors because they don't need to. The number of Western tourists in the country is totally dwarfed by the number of domestic tourists. Even the little things, like payment systems at any shop or restaurant, are set up based on the Chinese system rather than the world system. It was fascinating.

    It's not a place for people who like to be comfortable all the time. We don't read or speak any of the language, and there were times when we were lost, confused, and out of our element. But I think that's all part of the experience. I think if you are a 'traveler' rather than a 'vacationer' then you'll do fine.

    My favourite destination was Yangshuo, which is home to only 300,000 people and was a welcome relief after we spent the first week of the trip touring the supercities of Shanghai, Beijing, Xi'an and Chengdu. The natural beauty there, with the karst mountains, is unreal, and unlike anything I've ever seen. It helped that we had 3 nights to settle in there at a very nice hotel. It was inexpensive and idyllic and in a great location, and the food was amazing. I also really enjoyed Beijing. We had bad weather there, but got to tick some boxes on some amazing sights and activities. We went to the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, we ate Peking duck, we went to an amazing acrobat show, and stayed in a lovely hutong neighbourhood. We also saw the Great Wall, but that was the worst weather of the entire trip and was actually a pretty disappointing experience because of it.

    Shanghai Disneyland was our first full day in China, and we were in the throes of culture shock while we were there. The pushing and shoving and crowds drove me crazy, but I think if we'd visited after being in the country for a week, it would have been more likely to roll off my back. Even as it drove me crazy, it fascinated me, too. (Wouldn't you think queuing would be MORE embedded in a society with that many people, rather than less embedded?) The attractions were fantastic - we really enjoyed seeing some new-to-us attractions, as well as updated versions of some of the ones we already know. And of course, being so new, everything is in great shape - fresh paint, the latest technology, etc. It felt like a very different park than the Disney parks we'd already visited. By comparison, Hong Kong Disneyland felt much more similar to the ones we've already visited (Orlando, Anaheim and Paris). This is probably also in part because the culture in Hong Kong is more similar to our culture than the culture in Shanghai is.
     
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  8. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    You will be ahead of the game! We said we were going to try to learn Mandarin before we went, and we downloaded a couple of apps, but we never made any headway with it. Luckily the Chinese people we met who work in the tourism industry all use translation apps to communicate, and they work surprisingly well. I was also pleasantly surprised by how much English is used at the park in Shanghai. We only saw a handful of other Westerners in the Shanghai park all day - I was quite taken aback by how much of a minority we were. And yet most of the cast members know at least a few words of English to help you get by ("Fastpass", "How much", "How long" etc.)
     
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  9. cynditech

    cynditech Mouseketeer

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    Welcome home - sounds like you had a wonderful trip!!! We actually hadn't planned on visiting Disneyland Shanghai when in China, but now I'm wondering if we should since we're there? I have heard that many many people speak English in China, so I figured we'll be able to get by with that plus my not-so-great Mandarin lol!!!

    If I can ask - how did you guys do foodwise? I have a super picky eater, but I figure if he gets hungry enough he'll finally eat!
     
  10. BLTtinkerbell

    BLTtinkerbell DIS Veteran

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    Welcome back! I am looking forward to seeing all your pictures.
     
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  11. KJTex

    KJTex Earning My Ears

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    Welcome back!
     
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  12. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    My daughter is a super picky eater too, and she survived. :) It helps that she loves rice, and could usually find a plain noodle dish to order if needed. There are also lots of Western fast food chains. I think we went to McDonald's twice to help balance out some of the more exotic fare. There's a Subway at the base of the Great Wall. There are KFC's everywhere! Most places we went had both Western and Eastern breakfast options, so I would order the dumplings and she would order waffles or toast with peanut butter and we'd both be happy. Bread is not common in China except for in places that cater to Western clientele. In Hong Kong we ordered toast and it took more than 20 minutes to come. Why? Because they burned the first few attempts at it. I guess they don't get a lot of practice in making it!
     
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  13. cynditech

    cynditech Mouseketeer

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    OMG lol, that is too funny about the toast!!! That makes me feel better that there are possibly other choices he can eat - especially the breakfast options! I heard that there are a ton KFC's there - too funny - it's hard to find here!
     
  14. Chickkypoo

    Chickkypoo DIS Veteran

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    Welcome Home!

    I see you travel like me! I try to get every last second in from my vacation and hate to waste a vacation day I could have spent traveling.

    Glad to hear you loved China. So many people when I tell them it was one of my favourite countries to visit often look at me like I am crazy. You really do have to go in with an open mind, as it is such a different culture. I will have to look into Yangshuo, it sounds amazing. We really loved Chengdu. We had a fantastic guide there, and the food was fantastic (she took us to places where the locals eat, including an amazing hot pot restaurant). I would go back again just for the food.

    It sounds like our trips to Beijing were pretty similar. I wish I had come across this thread prior to your leaving. One of our favourite experiences on our trip was learning how to make dumplings in a small kitchen in the Guanshuyuan Hutong.

    Our guide in Beijing told us that the pushing and shoving often occurs in crowds because there are so many people, and if you don't push your way up you miss out on the chance to experience things.

    I can't wait to hear more about your trip and see some pictures!
     
  15. SWofDisorder

    SWofDisorder Expatriate Fun

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    Hi,
    I was the one who sent the PM. So far I do have a few questions but for right now, I wanted to ask how important was Chengdu vs the time investment? I really want to see the panda bears but we must take the HS train RT from Xian. I read that it is best if we see the Pandas at the most early opening and be in the nursery at the right time. Doing all I can to make this happen.
     
  16. SWofDisorder

    SWofDisorder Expatriate Fun

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    Could you please let me know where you ate in Chengdu? I will try to find the Guanshuyuan Hutong as that sounds fun.
     
  17. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    For us, the pandas were a big deal. I know you can see pandas at the Beijing zoo but I thought it was pretty awesome to see so many pandas in one place. And the whole city is panda crazy; there are statues and signs and gift shops and and and... it was a very fun experience for my kids to be in the midst of pandemonium like that (ha ha).

    If you have more time to spend in Chengdu, then the Leshan Buddha is nearby - we weren't able to fit a visit into our itinerary, but I would have loved to see it.
     

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